Loving and Recommitting to the Craft of Writing

Back in college, I tried to master playing the acoustic guitar. I also wanted to become a published writer. On any given week, I was practicing the guitar for about 2 hours, 4-5 times a week. I also kept a journal and wrote for my college’s paper. At some point, a friend of mine recruited me to write for a magazine for high school students.

I found myself too busy with guitar and writing, on top of all my academic requirements. So I decided to focus on writing and cut back on the time I spent playing the guitar. (Did I mention that I only borrowed guitars because I couldn’t afford to buy one?)

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Stuffing bags and the challenges of a big event

The day before our office’s Youth 2019 event started, I joined several volunteers in stuffing the bags of participants. We put a devotional magazine, the program book, a bookmark, and a sticker.

We had to stuff more than 3,000 bags. And by 11 pm, we were just halfway through.

I called my wife as I walked back to my hotel. I told her what I was doing, and how tiring it was.

She asked me: “Aren’t you thankful you’re stuffing bags and not running the whole event?”

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The Case of the Silent Drive Thru

After picking up two people from the airport, we passed by a Wendy’s Drive Thru in Kansas City before heading back to the Convention Center.

I pulled up to the microphone and speaker area to place my order.

Silence.

After a minute or two, I asked “Hello, anybody there?”

Still more silence!

Because nobody replied, we decided to park and a colleague of mine went inside the restaurant to order.

It took about 20 minutes before she returned to the car and she said that that was one of the most interesting Wendy’s she’s ever been to: the supervisor was angry because the crew, all of whom were in training, and they kept messing up.

It’s not easy to be in training. You will mess up. You will make mistakes. And I totally understand that.

On the part of the management–of any organization–when there are a lot of trainees, a mentor should be present to work with them, to help them learn, and make sure that customers get the service they need and deserve.

Being parents of young kids can be overwhelming

It’s 12:46 am and we have just finished folding and packing away our laundry. We moved to a new apartment barely a week ago, so the house is still a mess.

We are slowly bringing order to our stuff. In 2015, my wife, son, and I arrived with five large suitcases and two boxes. Four years later, we have enough stuff to fill a three-bedroom apartment!

I didn’t mean to write about moving–though I have moved houses more than I care for since I was a child. But this just goes to show how hectic life could be with two young kids at home.

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Moving to a New Apartment in Nashville

I am no stranger to moving to a different house. While I was growing, my father, who was an itinerant preacher, moved from one church to another every 1-3 years.

The longest time we spent at a parsonage (a house assigned to a church’s pastor) was six years. By the time I turned twenty, we have stayed at about 10 houses.

In 2015, my wife and I reduced our belongings, packed the essentials, and moved from Manila, Philippines to Nashville, TN USA as I started a new job.

So I do know about moving and packing things.

We’re saying goodbye to this house in a couple of weeks!
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Rasings Visit Legoland

Coco loves Legos! The first Lego set he ever built was a 3-in-1 Dinosaur set. He can build a T-Rex, a Triceratops, or a Pterodactyl. His collection has expanded in the past year–a Batman set, a Lego Overwatch Bastion, a helicopter, and a Unikitty.

At 6 years, it’s amazing how he can concentrate for hours just to build a complicated set meant for 8-12 years old kid. He asks for help for some aspects of the set that are too difficult for his small hands. But other than that, he has the patience to build it!

To Legoland, Florida

About a year ago–we promised Coco that we will visit Legoland. We designated a coin bank where he can put coins and bills to save up for it.

On Memorial Day holiday weekend, we drove down to Florida from Nashville, TN to have our first vacation as a family of four.

We bought a two-day package, which included access to the park and to the water park, plus one night stay at Hampton Inn Winter Haven. After the Lego Movie 2 came out, we found a discount code included in a McDonald’s Happy Meal order. That was handy.

Driving Down to Florida… with a 6-Month old

Because we had a 6-month old baby, we thought we could fly down to Florida. We checked the flights and… we couldn’t afford it. The only option was to drive down to Florida.

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So We Applied for a Green Card

My family and I first moved to Nashville in the USA in 2015. At that first move, Cha and I didn’t really decide how long we were going to stay here and when we will go back to the Philippines.

I was granted an R-1 visa because I work with a global agency of the United Methodist Church. Since the R-1 is only good for a maximum of 5 years, I needed to apply for a green card if I wanted to keep working here.

Sometime in late 2017, we decided to apply for the green card so we could continue staying and working in the US.

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Bank of the Philippine Islands Just Made It Significantly More Difficult for Overseas Filipinos (OFWs) to Use their BPI Online Banking System

UPDATE: BPI finally added my US phone number to their system and I can use their online banking system now without any problems. It took several weeks of waiting.

I’ve been a loyal BPI customer since I first opened a savings account with them in 2005. I love their service and their online banking system. It’s easy to pay bills online and connect your savings, checking, and credit card accounts together.

Although I’ve been in the US for the past 4 years, I continue to use my BPI account for remittances–sending money to family, funding my investment accounts, saving some money, and paying online bills and subscriptions. I also use my BPI credit card every now and then for transactions in the US and when I travel around the world.

Towards the end of 2018, they announced the transition from BPIExpressOnline.com to Online.BPI.com.ph. The new website features a sleek new design and a more minimalist, elegant design.

Right now, that’s all the good I could say about this new service. You see, BPI just made it significantly more difficult for Overseas Filipinos to use their online banking system. Here’s why.

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How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a Green Card in the USA?

Applying for a US Green Card can be an expensive process. Some jobs provide a way to become a Permanent Resident. Sometimes, though, you arrive in the US with a work visa and after at least two (2) years, you become eligible to apply for Permanent Residence, aka Green Card.

By the way, it’s called a “Green Card” because the Permanent Resident cards issued before 1976 had the green color. Since 2002, though, the card has a light pink color.

We arrived in the USA in the third quarter of 2015. By mid-2017, we became eligible to apply for Permanent Residence. However, because of the demands of my job, we chose not to apply. But I was actively seeking information about the process and what it will require from us.

Expensive!

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